The American Academy Of Pediatric Dentistry Pediatric Oral Health Research and Policy Center Offers Commentary On New CDC Report

March 5, 2015 03:57 PM
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CHICAGO (March 5, 2015) — The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the leading authority on children’s oral health, provided commentary on the report, Dental Caries and Sealant Prevalence in Children and Adolescents in the United States, 2011-2012, by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC and the National Center for Health Statistics. 
 
Dr. Paul S. Casamassimo, D.D.S., M.S., and director of the AAPD Pediatric Oral Health Research and Policy Center stated, "Preliminary CDC data suggests that some progress has been made in reversing this trend [of increasing ECC], with more very young children receiving care, most likely due to the increased number of pediatric dentists who care for this age group, as well as improvements in Medicaid dental programs in some states. However, the majority of Medicaid children are still not obtaining oral health services on a par with those privately insured."
 
"Of particular interest is the 5 percent decrease in which 23 percent of children ages 2 to 5 years had caries in primary teeth," continued Casamassimo. "True prevention of caries starts by 1 year of age. The early dental visit can reduce a child’s future risk of dental disease and enhance oral health throughout childhood. We note that the number of pediatric dental training positions has more than doubled in the past 15 years, resulting in an overall increase in AAPD member pediatric dentists from 3,329 in 2000 to 6,252 at present.  We also note that an analysis of Medicaid 416 dental data from 2000-2012 indicates that the number and percent of children receiving dental services under Medicaid has grown continuously over this period.  It is likely that these two factors (an increased supply of pediatric dentists and modest improvements in Medicaid dental programs) have contributed to this positive outcome."  
 
About the key finding on how untreated tooth decay in primary teeth among children aged 2–8 was twice as high for Hispanic and non-Hispanic black children compared with non-Hispanic white children, Casamassimo said, "We understand that certain groups are disproportionately affected by caries. Unfortunately, these are often those whose circumstances prevent realization of the preventive and treatment opportunities other children enjoy. Ultimately, the negative social determinants of health affect oral health much as they do general health in this population. These results point to the need to redouble our efforts on adequate financing of care and reaching these children and their families to increase oral health literacy."
 
The other key finding to highlight was about how three in five adolescents aged 12–19 had experienced dental caries in permanent teeth, and 15 percent had untreated tooth decay. He stated, "This statistic speaks loudly that the war on dental caries is far from over. We see in this report that one in five children has decay in their primary teeth and that ultimately, dental caries wages on into adolescence for many children. The results speak to the need for continuing diligence well into adolescence with preventive services, a Dental Home and repeated risk assessments as habits and circumstances continue to change. Lengthening recall periods in any phase of childhood and adolescence is not supported by evidence and puts children at risk for carrying dental disease into young adulthood."
 
According to the AAPD "State of Little Teeth Report," which features the latest scientific research on the public health crisis of tooth decay, a child with unhealthy teeth is at risk for future oral health problems as an adult. Untreated tooth decay can lead to infection, loss of teeth, and expensive emergency and restorative interventions. The Report notes that the effects of the caries epidemic extend far beyond the affected children to the greater community. It is estimated that more than $40 billion per year is spent on the treatment of dental caries in the United States. 
 


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